As we get older, certain kinds of health problems become more likely. This is true for dental health as well, as seniors have an increased risk of cavities. Other issues such as tooth loss are increasingly likely, too. Talk to your dentist about these problems to get recommendations for treatments and procedures that can help.
The increased risk of dental cavities in older adults is often caused by dry mouth. This isn’t a natural part of getting older—it’s caused by medication. More than 500 medications have dry mouth as a side effect, including medications for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, pain, anxiety and depression, and other health problems. Dry mouth means there’s less saliva in the mouth to keep the oral environment at a healthy pH, and the risk of cavities increases.
Dry mouth and the risk of cavities is the reason why it’s so important to let your dentist know about the medications you take. Your dentist can suggest treatments to relieve the dry mouth problem and prevent cavities developing. Some remedies include:
- Oral sprays or mouthwashes that help keep the mouth moist.
- Drink more water, and take small sips of water frequently.
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck sugar-free lozenges to stimulate saliva.
- Avoid beverages that promote cavities or dry out the mouth, such as carbonated drinks, caffeinated drinks, and fruit juice.
Most adults have at least the early signs of gum disease, but as we get older the disease can get progressively worse. For older adults, factors such as tobacco use, poorly-fitting dental devices, poor diet, and health problems such as diabetes, increase the risk of gum disease worsening.
Continuing to maintain good oral hygiene, and visiting your dentist regularly, are the best ways to combat gum disease. It’s especially important to see your dentist often if you’re affected by problems that reduce your hand mobility and make it harder to brush and floss.
Advanced gum disease can cause tooth loss, and if a tooth is badly damaged by cavities or injury it may fall out or need to be extracted. Missing teeth are more than just an aesthetic problem. It can cause issues with chewing and talking and can contribute to loss of density in the jawbone.
Teeth can be replaced with dentures, a bridge, or dental implants, depending on your preferences, and on what’s most suitable for your situation.
Stains and discoloration
Coffee, tea, red wine, and other beverages stain the teeth over years of consumption. And as we get older, the teeth naturally darken due to changes in dentin, the tissue layer that lies beneath the enamel.
Tooth whitening can take care of most stains caused by food and beverage consumption, and many other kinds of stains too. For dentin darkening, veneers are a more appropriate aesthetic treatment, as this discoloration is part of the tooth structure and can’t be bleached away.
If you or one of your loved ones is in need of dental care in Charlotte, NC – Call ART Dentistry today!